Geological Oceanography

Alastair Graham

Alastair Graham

Alastair Graham

Associate Professor
Geological Oceanography
Ph.D., Imperial College London (University of London), 2007
Office Phone: 727.553.3415
CV: View CV
Google scholar page
Southern Ocean Science



Research: Past changes in Earth’s cryosphere, Geomorphological Processes in Sub-Ice and Open-Ocean Sea-Floor Environments, Antarctic Continental Margin Evolution, Sub-Antarctic Climate History.

Specialties: Bathymetry, Marine Geomorphology, Polar Marine Geology, Marine Geophysics, Glacial Processes, Remotely Operated and Autonomous Instruments for Sea-Floor Exploration

Dr. Graham is a marine scientist, studying the link between ice sheets and the geological record. His research interests are focused on uncovering the histories, mechanisms, and drivers of past glacial and environmental change as recorded by high-latitude ocean floors and marine sedimentary records, as well as improving knowledge of the physical processes that govern the evolution of glacial and marine environments. Working from the glacier front to the deep sea, Dr Graham’s current research agenda is motivated by a set of questions steered towards the grand challenges faced by environmental and Antarctic science in the 21st century: how quickly, by how much, through what processes, and in response to what triggers do ice sheets and glaciers change over timescales not captured by observational records? An ongoing major objective of his work is to produce records of past ice‐sheet change at the poles that are significantly longer than satellite observations, providing the critical centennial to millennial context for changes to our warming planet and rising seas. Another key aspect is to study the processes of glacial environments using geophysical and geological tools to provide insight into modern and future ice-sheet behaviour. Dr Graham works routinely with glaciologists, oceanographers, and biologists to connect modern and palaeo processes in ice-sheet settings and increasingly looks to bridge ancient and contemporary systems in his research.

Dr. Graham received his PhD from Imperial College London in 2007. He was post-doctoral researcher at the British Antarctic Survey from 2007 through 2013, where his research emphasis shifted from seismic investigations of northwest Europe’s shallow seas, to the geomorphology of the sea bed around Antarctica for which he is now widely renowned. Dr. Graham received a NERC New Investigator Award in 2012 to study the glacial and climatic history of sub-Antarctic South Georgia. He was the 2013 recipient of the Laws Prize, awarded to young scientists for outstanding work worthy of recognition in the field of polar research. From 2013 to 2017, Dr Graham worked at the University of Exeter, in the UK, as Lecturer and, latterly, as Senior Lecturer. At UoE, he taught specialisms in glacial geology and ocean-floor exploration, led large undergraduate residential courses in research skills, and ran a week-long field class in glacial geology in Iceland. He received numerous teaching award nominations and awards for collaboration during his time at the university. Between 2015-2017, Dr Graham was Co-Investigator on a NERC-IODP Phase 2 site survey project, studying the seismostratigraphic expression of ice and ocean records contained within deep-sea sediment drifts along the Antarctic Peninsula margin. He is currently member of the PI team on an NSFOPP-NERC funded project, ‘THOR: Thwaites Offshore Research’, working as part of a 5-year Joint Research Program (the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration) studying the future evolution of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. Dr Graham currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Glaciology.

Dr. Graham became Associate Professor in Geological Oceanography at the College of Marine Science at USF in August 2019.  A new group – SESAME (Sea-floor Survey and Exploration of Southern OceAn Marine Environments) – will form around his interests in the coming years.  SESAME will serve to retain and combine Dr Graham’s diverse range of research interests and active projects into a single program, supported by a new state-of-the-art geophysical lab space set to open at USF in 2020. Innovative marine survey techniques underpin the research group’s forward-looking plans, which seek to employ autonomous and underwater vehicles to explore hard-to-reach sub-ice environments, and use high resolution sonar, seismic equipment, and sampled sediments to study sea-floor glacial environments in unprecedented detail.

Recent highlights

Article in ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine: ‘Mapping Thwaites’ (March 2019, by Jeff Goodell)